Rosenthal said he thought he had a good chance to win a sixth term in office, but he respects the decision of the voters. Supporters who watched the unofficial numbers come in at Democratic headquarters were stunned when it became apparent Rosenthal was losing the election.
"I'm honored to have served as first selectman for 10 years," Rosenthal said. "This is a great town. I always respect the decision of the voters. If they decided that it's time for someone else, then I respect their decision."
Rosenthal said one of the things he could have done better was to respond earlier to criticism in recent months on a variety of issues that were "unfairly represented," including the development of Fairfield Hills.
"I think I was still making the right decisions, but I should have done a better job communicating my position," he said. "I wish Mr. Borst well."
Borst said while Rosenthal is a good man who did a good job in office for his first eight years, he became complacent during his last term.
"He was confident in his position and felt like he didn't have to listen to the constituents," he said. "Yes, I won the election, but Herb lost the election. The people are saying that they want some changes."
Borst said his first priority in office will be to complete a comprehensive review of the Fairfield Hills project.
"I want a detailed review of the Fairfield Hills situation and see if we can make some changes," he said. "I was on the Fairfield Hills study committee and had pushed for the creation of an authority, hoping it would take the politics out of the project, but that didn't happen."
Resident Susan McDermott said she voted for Borst because she didn't like the progress being made at Fairfield Hills.
"In the last months we've seen some progress, but for the past four and a half years there was nothing happening," she said. "Sometimes it's just nice to get some new people in office and some new ideas."
Gary Davis, a co-founder of the Independent Party of Newtown, won his bid for a seat on the Legislative Council along with Po Murray. He said the Independent Party's support of Borst may have made a difference for the Republican candidate.
"We campaigned on a message that people wanted change," Davis said. "Most people I talked to believed that we needed a new direction in town government. They want a government that's more transparent and more responsive to them as citizens."
According to unofficial results, including absentee ballots, Borst received a total of 2,855 votes and Rosenthal received 2,771 votes.
"I always accept the decision of the voters, and this time the voters decided to go in a different direction," Rosenthal said Tuesday shortly after arriving at Republican headquarters to congratulate his opponent.
Davis said the Independent Party likely received enough votes to guarantee a line on the ballot in the 2009 election.
"In the coming weeks we will be meeting to officially organize the party and we will be inviting members of the public to participate," he said.
Contact Dirk Perrefort at firstname.lastname@example.org
or at (203) 731-3358.